Sunday, March 1, 2015

Welcome guest author Jenn McKinlay

     On New Year’s Day, the Hub and I were invited to a delightful open house at a musician friend’s abode.  Now this was in Tempe, AZ where the temperature should have been a blissful 68 degrees, you know, jeans and long sleeve shirt weather with no jacket required, but it was not.  No, instead it was a bone chilling 41 degrees and left all of us desert rats scrambling for real estate around the fire pit and strategically placed space heaters.
     Yes, I know that my family in New England would consider anything in the forties a glorious respite from the negative digits, but for us southwestern folk, it was bitterly, frigidly cold.  One of the party goers even wrapped herself up from head to toe in a thick wool blanket.  In conversations, we could see our breath puff out in white clouds when we spoke -- at mid-day, in central Arizona, it boggled!
     Still, the music and laughter and good times commenced, musicians are a hearty lot, and the large table sagged under the weight of all the food, which was plentiful and diverse, always a good thing.  Looking for something that would toast up my insides, I spotted a huge crock pot of pozole rojo made by one of the guys, a guitar player named Dave.  Don’t you love when men are good cooks? 
     Elbows were thrown, mostly between me and the Hub, as we zeroed in on the delicious, warm up your nether regions soup.  We both had a heaping bowl, and Hub circled back for seconds. I have to say as a cold weather curative, it worked like a charm. 
     Naturally, I then had to learn how to make it.  So to help you keep warm during this last gasp of winter, here’s the recipe I cobbled together from a couple of different sources.  Enjoy!  And remember, spring has to come eventually, right? 

Pozole Rojo

2 ounces dried chiles de arbol
6 cloves garlic (2 smashed, 4 finely chopped)
Kosher salt
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large white onion, chopped
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried oregano                                      1 bay leaf
3 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Garnish options: Diced avocado, shredded cabbage, diced onion, sliced radishes and/or fresh cilantro

Break the stems off the chiles de arbol and shake out as many seeds as possible (do not rub your nose while touching the peppers – I did – and YOWZA!).  Tip: Wear food prep gloves if you have them. Put the chiles in a bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water, for about 30 minutes, until soft. Transfer the chiles and 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid to a blender. Add the smashed garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pushing the sauce through with a rubber spatula; discard the solids.

Rub the pork all over with the cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high. Push the onion and garlic to one side of the pot; add the pork to the other side and sear, turning, until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

In a large crock pot, stir in the chicken broth, oregano, bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the chile sauce (depending on your taste). Setting the crock pot on low, carefully add the pork, onions and garlic from the large pot, let the pork cook for about 4 hours.

Lastly, stir in the garbanzo beans and continue to cook for one more hour, until the pork is tender and starts falling apart. Remove the bay leaf. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and use two forks to shred the meat then return it to the pot. Add some water or broth if the pozole is too thick. Season with salt to taste and serve with assorted garnishments.

Jenn is the NYT bestselling author of a several mysteries series and lives in sunny AZ in a house overrun with kids, pets, and her husband's guitars.

Find Jenn on her website or on Facebook.


  1. No hominy??!!

  2. Welcome Jenn! The soup sounds marvelous...we're glad to have you back visiting MLK! I'm just now reading the new hat shop mystery and look forward to this next one too. xox

  3. That sounds like a great meal for a cold day. Wonder if I can squish that size pork chunk into my not-large slow cooker? Of course, I'm sneering at you, since we've barely flirted with thirty degrees for, oh, weeks now. And it's going to snow again! Happy March.

  4. Ohhh, pork shoulder! Yum! I love it when the meat just falls apart. Sounds just wonderful, Jenn!

  5. Pork shoulder is pretty amazing stuff. This sounds great.
    What a wonderful cover to the book!

  6. Welcome back, Jenn! This sounds heavenly for a cold day in Grand Rapids where it's REALLY cold, as in negative digits cold. Hurry spring!

  7. Love this zippy recipe. Fun! Congrats on yet another release for Cupcakes!! Love the title.

    Daryl / Avery

  8. Hi, Susan, Nope, no hominy for us since it's a processed grain and I have garbanzo lovers, I use garbanzos (chick peas).
    Thanks for the kind words, Roberta!
    Hi, Shiela, my fam is MA - you have my sympathies.
    Krista - I do love me a tender shoulder :)
    Libby - thanks so much for the nice words about the cover. I love their faces.
    Peg - NEGATIVE digits? No, just no.
    Daryl - Thanks so much for inviting me. Smooches!

  9. Perfect for warm-me-up-quick weather! Thanks for joining us today, Jenn!

  10. Thank you for your great recipe. My Mom is always cold so I want to try it out to warm her up. "Dark Chocolate Demise" has a great cover. Very appealing and fun.

  11. Love your books! I need more! I have been in AZ but I miss those cold up north temps and snow. We had snow and cold all of November up north. It was so nice! And we ate a lot of soup. Not so much here in AZ. Heading back north soon.

  12. Looking forward to reading the new cupcake book.

  13. I tried this last night, and it was delicious! The meat really did fall apart easily. Any ideas what to do with the leftover chile sauce?